Manteca’s tribute to the fallen that was at one time the biggest event of its kind west of the Mississippi River is returning for Memorial Day weekend in 2022 after a four-year hiatus.
The three-day event will include an unusual gathering of at least four war memorials — the traveling Tomb of the Unknown Soldier, the traveling Korean War memorial, a re-creation of the Korean War Memorial in Washington, and the Never Forgotten Memorial complete with 7,000 plus crosses for the fallen in the Global War on Terror.
Pastor Mike Dillman led the effort to honor veterans and those that served, those who gave their all, others who passed years after serving their country that started in 2009 and continued until 2017 when he stepped away from the endeavor.
Dillman said his decision to take on the massive undertaking that will take place for three days —May 29-31 — in 2022 due to the number of displays “was a calling.”
“I tried to walk away from it but I couldn’t . . . I see the condition of the country,” Dillman said. “Patriots have to make a noise.”
The logistics and expenses involved with the displays and other events is requiring the small group of volunteers he has assembled to date to start now with planning instead of waiting until after the Christmas and New Year’s holidays.
Dillman said he has already contacted key volunteers who worked on the effort in past years. He noted all of them are on board.
Dillman noted there could be a fifth display. He is currently in negotiations with an organization that has a large traveling 9-11 memorial. He indicated they are in the process of confirming whether the date will work out.
The three-day event will include aerial fireworks, a 5K run, car show, entertainment, and other activities.
Dillman said whether helicopters and/or military flyovers occur will depend upon the military’s response.
In previous years as many as 30,000 people from throughout Northern California converged on Woodward Park promoting military leaders to note it was the largest Memorial Day weekend commemoration of its kind west of the Mississippi River.
Keynote speakers at the park over the years have included those that have served including Navajo code talkers and Sammy Davis a former Manteca High student and French Camp native who was bestowed the nation’s highest honor — the Congressional Medal of Honor — for valor in the Vietnam War.
The event needs a small army of volunteers to stage as well as donations.
A website — thememorialweekend.com — has been established. Donations will eventually be able to be made via the site. Also you can sign-up for the group’s electronic newsletter.
To contact Dennis Wyatt, email firstname.lastname@example.org